By on September 30, 2017

tdiengine

Twenty-seven billion seemed like an odd number, so Volkswagen upped the financial cost of its diesel emissions scandal to an even $30B. Actually, the extra expense comes entirely from the repair of older U.S.-market vehicles, which are proving less easy to fix than anticipated.

Because of this, VW has to rustle up some extra cash. The automaker set aside $26.7 billion to put the scandal behind it, and this latest price jump has the company pole vaulting over that marker.

This isn’t the only new grief facing VW, however. German media and The New York Times are reporting the arrest of the highest-ranking official so far — VW Group’s former powertrain chief. (Read More…)

By on September 15, 2017

Jetta TDI 2015

I have to admit I’ve been following the story of the looted diesel Volkswagens with more than a healthy amount of interest. These cars are showing up hundreds of miles away, covered by bogus titles, maybe with involvement from various nefarious officials. Clearly this is an American version of a Guy Ritchie heist film or something.

The absolute weirdest and least believable part of the whole thing, however, has nothing to do with the theft of the cars. Rather, it’s in the police response.

(Read More…)

By on August 25, 2017

VW logo, Image: Volkswagen

A former Volkswagen engineer who helped federal investigators after being linked to the diesel emissions scandal will cool his heels in an American prison.

U.S. District Court Judge Sean Cox sentenced James Liang, 63, to a 40-month term today, tacking on a $200,000 fine for his involvement in the automaker’s diesel deception. Liang is the first Volkswagen employee prosecuted for having a role in the conspiracy. (Read More…)

By on August 25, 2017

Martin Winterkorn, Image: Volkswagen AG [CC BY 3.0]/Wikimedia Commons

German media is reporting that former Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn, who resigned shortly after the diesel emissions scandal erupted in September 2015, was informed about the company’s emissions cheating in late July of that year — a month before the automaker claims its executive board learned of the issue.

Several media outlets are reporting that a former senior VW quality officer told Winterkorn on July 27, 2015 that the company “cheated,” Reuters reports. (Read More…)

By on July 27, 2017

2015 Volkswagen Golf family, Image: Volkswagen of America

Nearly two years after the mother of all automotive scandals yanked nine years’ worth of Volkswagens out of the “law-abiding citizen” category and into the environmental slammer, U.S. regulators have approved a fix for older VW 2.0-liter diesel cars.

The fix, which many believed would never happen, received an official thumbs up from the Environmental Protection Agency and California Air Resources Board today. The move means potential salvation for 326,000 otherwise doomed VW and Audi vehicles in the United States. (Read More…)

By on July 8, 2017

2014 audi a6 tdi engine

American investigators, hot on the trail of Volkswagen Group executives and managers with dirty hands, haven’t had the easiest time bringing suspected emissions scandal conspirators to trial. Germany doesn’t extradite citizens facing charges in other countries, making justice a tricky pursuit for U.S. authorities.

So far, only two players in the diesel deception find themselves in the arms of U.S. law enforcement— James Liang, a former executive who worked in California (and has pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges), and Oliver Schmidt, a former U.S. environmental liaison who previously worked out of VW’s Michigan emissions office. Federal agents nabbed him during a Miami layover as the German national returned home from a tropical vacation in January. Six others remain safely in Germany after a U.S. indictment.

Well, expect another trial now. Earlier this week, Munich police arrested an Italian national, Zaccheo Giovanni Pamio, the former head of thermodynamics at Audi’s engine development division. It’s the first diesel-related arrest in Germany and Pamio’s citizenship means he’s a candidate for extradition to the United States.

Now charged in connection to the scandal, American authorities hope Pamio squeals on his bosses at Audi. As for his involvement, the federal government alleges Pamio and others decided a premium sound system was a better use of vehicle space than a proper emission control system. (Read More…)

By on June 7, 2017

tdiengine

It’s hard not to imagine Volkswagen as a tempestuous child, prone to mischief and currently on a “time out” after getting caught lobbing spitballs in class. The thought softens the reality of a massive corporate deception that polluted the air and led to tens of billions of dollars in penalties.

As it turns out, serving as Volkswagen’s nanny is exhaustive work. After the U.S. government ordered a monitor to keep an eye on the automaker as part of its wildly expensive settlement, the monitor feels the need to triple his staff. (Read More…)

By on May 11, 2017

Porsche cayenne diesel

Is was probably with a sigh of relief that U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer granted final approval to a settlement for owners of 3.0-liter diesel Volkswagen Group vehicles earlier today. The issue has consumed no shortage of court time both before and after last December’s preliminary approval for a buyback, compensation and fix plan.

More than 80,000 Volkswagen, Porsche and Audi models were sold with engines rigged to cheat on emissions tests. Many of those units will now be bought back and others fixed — a plan with a minimum $1.22 billion price tag.

Breyer’s approval marks the end of the automaker’s main legal wranglings in the U.S. It also opens the cash floodgates, as even owners who opt for a fix will see a pile of crisp, clean dollars from VW. (Read More…)

By on May 4, 2017

2015 Volkswagen Golf TDI

Despite having the worst public image since the Ford Pinto or Chevrolet Vega, Volkswagen’s sidelined 2015 2.0-liter diesel models flew off lots after being approved for sale in mid-April.

A crop of about 11,000 unsold TDIs loitered on dealer lots around the U.S. after being banned from sale by the Environmental Protection Agency in September 2015. In a weak month that saw numerous automakers sink on the sales charts, Volkswagen was a bright light, posting a 1.6-percent increase over April 2016. Much of that success came from still-polluting diesels.

So much for stigma. (Read More…)

By on April 22, 2017

2015 Volkswagen Golf family, Image: Volkswagen of America

April has brought good news to diesel lovers and haters on both sides of the border.

After spending the winter (and the better part of last fall) jealously eyeing their southern neighbor’s buyback and compensation program, Canadian owners can now apply for that longed-for envelope of Volkswagen cash, as well as a one-way-ticket to hell for their emissions-rigged TDI model.

On Friday, the automaker settled court cases in Ontario and Quebec, paving the way for a 2.0-liter diesel settlement program that starts next week. The models involved are the same as in the U.S. — 105,000 units in all — and owners and lessees face similar choices as their American counterparts.

Unlike the recent shadowy roll-out of half-fixed 2015 models in the U.S., several Canadian dealers are proudly advertising the availability of “new” TDIs. (Read More…)

By on April 21, 2017

2015-Volkswagen-Golf-SportWagen-09
Oh my God, it’s finally almost over. After a 10-year conspiracy and almost 600,000 rigged diesel cars, VW’s legal battle with the United States is coming to an end. Volkswagen pled guilty last month to conspiracy to commit fraud and the obstruction of justice after it was caught cheating on emissions tests in 2015, and we’ve been eagerly waiting the verdict and subsequent punishment.

Today, a U.S. judge ordered the automaker to observe three years of probation and shell out a $2.8 billion criminal fine. The sum, which Steph Willems has informed me equates to 135,168 VW Golfs — after delivery and rounding up to the closest car — is in addition to the company’s $1.5 billion in civil penalties,  $4.7 billion in mandatory anti-pollution initiatives, and $11.2 billion diesel buyback program.  (Read More…)

By on April 10, 2017

Volkswagen Golf family

Angry phone calls from Volkswagen diesel owners eager for settlement cash are on the decline, while the amount of money paid for doomed TDI models has ballooned in recent months.

A status update filed by the automaker paints a clearer picture of where the arduous process stood at the end of February, with most of America’s diesel owners opting for a buyback or lease termination in addition to compensation cash.

Still, taking the nearly 500,000 rigged 2.0-liter vehicles off the road hasn’t been an easy one. (Read More…)

By on March 30, 2017

2015 Volkswagen Golf family, Image: Volkswagen of America

If you’ve felt left out of the Volkswagen diesel affair until now, chin up. You’ll soon be able to purchase your very own piece of automotive scandal history.

The Environmental Protection Agency has approved the sale of 2015 Volkswagen Group vehicles equipped with Generation 3 2.0-liter diesel engines, making this the first time any of the half-million-plus sidelined vehicles have been legally available to customers since the scandal began.

The contrarian’s list of unlikely daily drivers just grew a bit longer. (Read More…)

By on March 29, 2017

tdiengine

Earlier this week, we reported on an influx of complaints from diesel owners who were required by law to permit Volkswagen to rectify their emission rigged engines. The consensus was that the company has not done a great job. If a veterinarian fixed a pet in the same manner that VW “fixed” these cars, you would probably put it out of its misery and then throttle the vet for butchering your now-ruined family companion.

Owners of the vehicles have complained of units lacking their former oomph, shuddering, stalling, and even being difficult to restart. While not every driver reported identical problems, the majority agreed Volkswagen had ravaged the engines’ ability to make power. At the time, nobody knew exactly how extensive the losses were. But, as the powerband-sapping solution closes in on North America, those numbers have come in.  (Read More…)

By on March 27, 2017

tdiengine

Volkswagen’s U.S. diesel woes have consumed most of the oxygen in the room for the past year and a half, but Europe has its own issues with the automaker’s emissions-spewing powerplants.

While owners on the continent haven’t had to hand their vehicle over in exchange for cash, the region’s less-stringent environmental laws still require that VW offer a fix for its rigged diesel engines. Good news for air quality, but bad news — apparently — for drivers. Many owners have discovered the fix turns a perfectly fine (though illegal) vehicle into a nightmare. (Read More…)

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